Tag: kindness

No, Conservative Evangelical Christianity, This Isn’t About Sin

If there’s one message that much of right wing conservative Evangelical Christianity desires for all people to hear with crystal clarity, it’s their frequent declarations of that which they vehemently stand against and hope to convince the world they should do so as well.

Vigorously combing the sands of our culture with their high-powered sin detectors in hand, much of conservative right wing Christianity seems to revel in moments where they can point the finger at perceived sin and parade their admonishment of it. Their aggressive stances, statements, and resolutions against the LGBTQIA community, including the recent “Nashville Statement,” are some of the many striking examples. To be sure, conservative Evangelical Christianity would love nothing more than to have us all convinced their agenda is altruistically focused on what they perceive to be sin and its negative impact on people and society.

Not true.

In fact, there’s something much deeper and disturbing under the surface.

For if the focus, mission, and heart of conservative Evangelical Christianity was truly pointed towards confronting sin and its devastating effects, several things would be happening that certainly aren’t.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be aggressively focused on their own sin, not others’. The teachings of Jesus that call our attention to give personal sin far greater importance than the speck perceived in another, would be given top priority. The primary sounds you would be hearing from conservative Evangelical Christianity would be the continuous cries of their own repenting for the countless atrocities that have been wielded from their system and manners of faith. Statement after statement and resolution after resolution would declare their continued remorse and commitment to personal change and soul searching. Thousands would be desperately ridding their lives of gluttony, greed, judgementalism, racism, sexism, bigotry, legalism, discrimination, imperialism, nationalism, and countless double standards. Churches would be selling their multi-million dollar state-of-the-art facilities and moving to much more cost effective solutions in order to gain the resources to reach the “least of these” instead of building ministry empires and franchising Jesus. Countless churches would be begging for mercy in response to all the ways they have put the color of carpets, the style of music, their personal preferences, the worshiping of the Bible, their spiritual navel-gazing, and the keeping of traditions far ahead of extending the love of Jesus to people. The world would tire of hearing the deafening laments and pleas for forgiveness pouring out endlessly from conservative Evangelical circles—if it was all about sin.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be communicating far more Grace and kindness. In fact, conservative Evangelical Christians would be ascribed as undeniably being the kindest most gracious people on the planet, trumpeting the message of the pure Gospel of Grace at every opportunity—knowing and teaching that, “It is God’s kindness that leads to repentance,” and “It’s the Grace of God that teaches us to live rightly.” Sin would be taken so seriously that pure Grace would be valued as the only solution. Change away from sin would be so important that kindness and Grace would be uplifted and protected as the only catalysts to freedom. All because, nothing else works and we don’t have time to waste prescribing the cancer and not the cure—if it was all about sin.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be truly and completely trusting the Spirit. For the Christian calling isn’t to change people, but to love them unconditionally while the Spirit does what only the Spirit can do. In the presence of perceived sin, conservative Evangelical Christians would be doing everything possible to get out of the way of the Spirit and to doubly make sure they didn’t serve as a detriment or distraction to the Spirit’s work. They would be so sensitive to this movement in people’s lives that to potentially error on the side of thwarting God’s transformative hand through fostering guilt, shame, and condemnation, would send shivers down their spine causing them to value restraint above all else—if it was all about sin.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be serving and loving to the extreme. In fact, conservative Evangelical Christianity would be declared the greatest friend a person could have, especially those labeled as “sinners.” The way conservative Evangelical Christians generously served, put their needs aside, and extravagantly loved people who have been marginalized, condemned, and demonized would be so world-renowned that people might become attracted to engage in sin or experience religious oppression just for the overwhelming love and selfless serving they would receive in response from conservative Evangelical Christians. In fact, the unconditional love and serving of people deemed to be sinning would become such a priority for conservative Evangelicals, there would be little time for much of anything else to do, dream, or desire—if it was all about sin.

But sadly, it’s not, and these actions, values, and attitudes are rarely seen within much of right wing conservative Evangelical Christianity.

Why?

Because here’s the revelation of the century, for so much of conservative Evangelical Christianity, it’s not about sin and it never has been.

It’s about power—their power.

Sin has been used, abused, and fabricated into an ultimate diabolical distraction away from their primary aspiration and goal—power.

For if it were all about sin, there is no clearer example than much of conservative Evangelical Christianity’s election and continued support of President Donald Trump. It would have never happened, but it did. Why? Because it’s never been about sin, it’s always been about power.

Conservative right wing Evangelical Christianity, we’re not fooled—at least not anymore.

What’s the bottom-line allure beneath your insistence on biblical inerrancy? Power

What’s behind your aggressive necessity to continuously condemn and demonize the LGBTQIA community? Power

What’s at the center of your determination to believe in a hell of eternal torture for those who believe differently than you? Power

What’s underneath your mixed-gospel filled with conditions, loopholes, “to do” lists, and spiritual gymnastics? Power

What’s at stake behind your continued manifestation of sexism, nationalism, and elitism? Power

Power to condemn, power to control, power to Lord over, power to legitimize your existence, purpose, and actions, power to spiritually justify hate, and power to manipulate people into your fold.

No, conservative Evangelical Christianity, this isn’t about sin—it never has been.

It’s always been about power.

Thankfully, the good people of Nashville will have nothing of it, and neither will I nor countless others.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Christian, Why Aren’t You Pounding On My Door?

It’s not an issue of debate, at least, probably not for you.

In sync with your faith understanding and interpretation of the Bible, you believe hell is absolutely real and anyone who doesn’t repent, say the “sinner’s prayer,” and make the proper life adjustments is destined to spend eternity there.

For you, hell is a God appointed, forever place of unbearable torture and suffering where the occupant’s greatest desire is to die, but they can’t—it’s hell, their due punishment for rejecting a holy and just God.

Therefore, the understood purpose of Jesus is to communicate and manifest God’s love to people while making it possible for them, through their repentance and faith, to be “saved” from the terrifying, agonizing, eternal reality God has prepared for them if they don’t love Him back in return. In your mind, perhaps God doesn’t exactly “send” people to hell nor desire their eternal demise, but they rather choose it. Either way, at the very least, God allows hell for the unbelieving, is holy in doing so, and your prescribed mission is, out of love and obedience, to do everything you can to keep people from going there.

I’m not being critical nor condemning of your faith understanding, just descriptive.

Which leaves me with a question.

If you believe hell is so real and terrible, God loves me enough to send His Son to die a gruesome death on a cross to make it possible for me to avoid it, and you are His plan to tell me all about it so that I can believe all the right things to escape it, why aren’t you pounding on my door every minute of every day to convince me of it? Even if I should turn away, brush you off, or even reject it all together, why don’t you keep relentlessly pursuing it? It’s a hell of eternal torment that you believe in, is it not?

What could possibly be more important? Certainly, not your marriage, family, career, or enjoyed way of life—that would be ridiculously selfish in contrast to the eternal suffering of even just one person, especially in the kind of hell to which you subscribe. What kind of twisted love could one possibly possess that would ever consider resting for just a moment, knowing the potential result if you do?

With millions of “lost” people, you believe, standing at the edge of forever fire only a heartbeat away from eternal torture, how is it that you can be doing, investing, spending, prioritizing, and participating in anything less than the direct pleading, door-pounding, begging, and drawing of every person possible?

And what about your behavior? I hear that your faith tradition believes that little bugger can actually become a stumbling block, even unto the saving faith of another. With all due respect, as much as you seem to be comfortable in talking about everyone else’s personal conduct, for just a moment, can we talk about yours? To think that, for example, an overweight, gluttonous pastor or smoking parishioner might be the primary reason a person concludes, “this whole Jesus thing isn’t for me,” shouldn’t that send every Christian to their local Gold’s Gym after Sunday preaching, not the typical gorging at Golden Corral commonly themed? If that doesn’t potentially shutdown a heathen’s moment of saving faith, what about your 50% divorce rate? What about the 60% of church leaders who watch porn? What about all the church gossip and political infighting? We’re talking about a hell of eternal torment that you believe in, are we not?

Which reminds me, I also recall a couple central, pivotal passages from the Bible that are highly faith defining. One dictates that in actuality, it’s “God’s kindness that leads to repentance” and the other, “the ministry of the Law is death.” So, wait a second. If a white-hot hell is so real and repentance is the sure ticket to the cool breezes of heaven, shouldn’t we be the kindest people on planet earth and exuding a ministry of Grace like the world has never seen? Shouldn’t we be revered in every corner of the planet as being the gentlest, most compassionate, radically gracious, unconditional loving, patient, selfless, generous, serving, and humble people ever known upon the earth—even to a fault?

I know this might be a tough question to answer, but in light of the seriousness of your claims about hell, why isn’t yours a clear, resounding, and flat out earth-shaking lifestyle of relentless kindness, radical Grace, and compassionate character that’s pounding at the doors of every heart and mind in every moment of every day to convince them? I hate to ask this yet again, but this is an eternal hell of unimaginable pain, suffering, and brutal torture at the hands of demons that we are talking about, is it not?

I, and many others, have been carefully listening for your answer, and perhaps we have sadly received it. For as much as this is difficult to say, the truth is, our doors have almost never felt your genuine knock, our hearts rarely ever hear the plea of your kindness, our eyes see so much hypocrisy, and our souls starve in absence of observing and feeling any genuine love, acceptance, and true Grace from you.

Rather, if I’m honest, you seem so desperate to insist that your hell is so real and that I need to take it so drastically serious. Yet, I am growing more and more convinced that, by all the things you do and don’t, you yourself don’t actually believe it, perhaps not even in Jesus either. For if you did, with all due respect, I just have to believe you’d be so much more loving, so much more kinder, so much more gracious, so much more concerned about your own walk, and so much more focused on loving, respecting, accepting, and pursuing mine—you know, like Jesus.

Instead, I see state-of-the-art church buildings, lighting systems, worship packages, budgets, and million dollar pastoral homes and salaries. I see Christian clubs with crosses on top where like-minded, like-skinned people gather like herds of cattle to daintily drivel amongst themselves and viciously judge the world. I see people who are addicted to the sound of their own spiritual voices, consumed by consuming, and content with making their spiritual satisfaction the idolatrous priority of their faith. I see people leaning on their ideologies to the detriment, harm, and abuse of others. I see people who demonstrate little-to-no restraint in highjacking Jesus for political power, personal empire building, and ministry fame. I see people who are feverishly unkind, selfish, privileged, and pretentious—totally at peace with a faith-life of spiritual navel gazing, people-judging, bible-weaponizing, and personal significance seeking. I see people who marginalize, discriminate, and torment those with whom they disagree, dislike, or conveniently deem to be sinning differently. I see people who view the world as a spiritual project—a pasture of beastly humans to ultimately rope into their brand of religious performance, rule-keeping, soul-milking, and mold-fitting. I see people who have spiritually rationalized nearly every form of evil under the sun while joyfully passing it off as biblical faithfulness. For much of modern Christianity has become so thin, white, privileged, cutting, and square, you could use it as piece of paper—best crumpled up and discarded, to be sure. “LeBron pulls up, he shoots, he scores”—all of it, into file thirteen.

If your hell is so true and your faith so loving, how in the world could you ever have time, energy, imagination, resources, or heart for becoming so much of what Jesus is clearly not?

Perhaps the real truth is, “hell” is only as important to you as far as it involves theological debates, condemning perceived sinners, drawing lines, spiritual justifying your platform, mission, and pride, and fearing people into your beliefs.

It obviously doesn’t bother you—that much. Cause you to love—that much. Inspire your kindness and graciousness—that much, nor compels your every all.

Hell—it’s all so convenient, is it not?

With all due respect, if you want me to believe your hell is so real, you are going to have to do a lot better at convincing me that you actually believe it, first.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

© 2017 Chris Kratzer

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